*Warning – letter might contain use of satirical tone to emphasise serious points being raised.*
I write to you because I’m not aware of the names of your fellow band members, don’t have the time to check, and I haven’t listened to your music since the 90s. I also avoid iTunes like the plague, as Apple demonstrates on a daily basis that it is no more than a heartless multi national company who will stop at nothing to make a profit. But that’s another story – I digress.
The reason I get in touch is because I wanted to personally bring to your attention, and that of the public, some issues which have arisen due to your using part of Newtown as the backdrop to your new video. ( I had a watch, by the way…it’s fantastic!!! I especially love the way your bouncers can be seen enforcing the ‘feel good’ vibe you try so hard to propagate. But that’s just me, I’m weird like that. In other words, details count, mate.)
My interest was piqued when one of the crew members asked me to move along, just before your video was shot. ( I was on my way to the hardware store, by the way, and stopped to ask about the cameras being used – not to hang around to be in your clip.) I was annoyed because under the production company’s agreement with Marrickville council, the crew member had no such authority. ( Neither, by the way, did your giant bouncer, whose intimidating presence was, from the accounts I’ve acquired, used to move members of the public along – again, without any authority. In fact, I think that’s illegal?)
But what’s got me annoyed, my good man, is the lack of respect the crew, and thereby yourself, have shown to members of the Newtown community who had no interest in your clip, and who have been done wrong by its presence.
Putting aside the fact that you’ve chosen a ‘hip’ part of town to cheaply add to your ‘vibe’, probably without the slightest knowledge of the area’s history or cultural significance, you’ve actually caused direct and actual distress to certain members of the community – and those who can least afford to endure it.
Firstly, the market holders on the section of land in front of the murals. Senior citizens, dude, who have already seen their rents increase over 60% in the past few years due to the literal flood of thoughtless hipsters into an undeserving community. According to first-hand accounts, members of the crew literally moved along customers from the stalls which use the mural space, and have done for over a decade. One stall-holder , who asked not to be named, lost a day’s takings – a pensioner who has already once been robbed at gun-point ( which was her reason for not wanting to be named.).
Another stall holder, whose name I will gladly provide to you, also lost takings, and on discussing the problem in advance with a member of the crew, whose identity I am aware of, was told that a discussion would be held, and ‘something sorted out’. The crew member, a senior member of the production company, never returned. Probably went to celebrate back in the East.
I notice, by the way, that your ‘talented’ director left Jafari, my friend, in the clip. I’m sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Jafari is from Uganda, and that his blackness would add to the ‘vibe’. Other stall holders, senior citizens, not so much. Being old is so uncool, right? ( Better get some plastic surgery?)
The real insult to me, though, is the blatant use of the two murals which surround that area – and which are featured heavily in the clip. I’m sure you have no idea of their cultural significance – you’re a busy man. But I’ll fill you in – firstly, that’s an Aboriginal Flag behind you at 1:23. You’ve probably seen them on t-shirts the hipsters will be wearing when it becomes trendy in about ten minutes.
In case you haven’t had a close look, the Aboriginal Flag represents the people, the earth and the sun, all as one. We, people, exist thanks to the earth and the sun. We don’t own the soil, as your native countrymen might believe. ( And for the record, half a metre below the pavers you stand on is Aboriginal land – despite claims by your sovereign that she, in fact owns what we stand on. But again, I digress. )
Moments earlier in the clip, at 1:08, you can see a mural which was completed more recently, with the words ‘…we have the dreaming’. These were written by a good friend of mine, and the mural completed by another good friend. Both first nations men, who work tirelessly to promote the cause, calling for respect towards indigenous people of a nation which respects few, let alone the few at the bottom.
According to Adam Hill, one of the mural’s artists, the work represents the indigenous population’s response to the mural painted above, asking why Marrickville Council would add a illustration of Martin Luther King to their heritage list, and not that of a mural which truly represents the area’s original inhabitants. The same question relates to the current dilemma; why neglect your own people, in the name of some momentary, pointless exercise?
Which really gets to the core of my point, my good man. Your band has literally waltzed into an area renowned for it’s respect for others; be it gay pride, racial, cultural, or whatever – Newtown and Enmore have long been areas which represent respect. So for your band, worth, I’m guessing, tens of millions of dollars, to ‘pretend’ to be of the street, while actually doing nothing but encouraging the slow creep of ignorance into the area, is what’s really insulting to me.
I know, by the way, that the production company involved paid $0 for the use of the streets, under the understanding that members of the public would not be put out, traffic would not be affected, and no litter would be left behind.
Well, my good man, I think your crew has failed on all three of those points, and in ways which could a) have easily been avoided and b) again show a lack of any empathy towards either the long-term locals or traditional owners of the land.
Now, I can understand, I suppose, why someone like you might feel the need to be surrounded by hundreds of blindly adoring fans with nothing better to do than point their crappy iProducts in your direction for the fleeting sense of joy that will keep them distracted from otherwise pointless lives. Or something like that.
But, you’ve been in the business a while, and I imagine you’ve had time between studios to consider the bigger issues. So, why don’t you consider the issues I’ve raised with you today, and have a think about how you can make amends?
I, for one, suggest one thing – as a long term resident, please do us all a favour and don’t come back to the area. At least not without something to offer, rather than just a willingness to use our ‘hipster haven’ as a mere prop in your latest attempt to develop your image? ( On that note, by the way – have you tried any new chords recently? )
Perhaps you could visit the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, located a few kilometres away in Redfern, where real people are actually fighting; actually fighting for their land, which is literally being stolen from them, just like you stole from Newtown. Why don’t you make amends to the people you’ve offended (and I assure you, there are many – I can provide details ), and visit the tent embassy? You can even come down in July, when it is said Ban Ki Moon ( he works at the UN) will be paying a visit.
I’ll finish up – I’m sure you have sleep to catch up on. But I wanted to mention one last thing – a metaphor for this whole affair.
You came, you brought a bunch of screaming teens with you, and all you left behind was a street littered with paper stars, which will fade away with the next shower.
Apologies for being a bit blunt, but…you’re a big boy. And you got a lot of money, so I’m sure you’ll survive.
Those senior citizen stall holders, though…might be nice for you to send them some flowers.
PS – This is how you do it properly. Better song, too.
PPS – Here’s a clip I directed for a small fee for a mate a while back. Everyone got paid, too.